2011 Events

An NBA Christmas

December 29, 2011
By Oliver Layco

Celtics vs Knicks

The NBA is back, and it arrived with a bang. Christmas Day saw a slate of five games throughout the day. The first game up was the New York Knicks vs. the Boston Celtics. However, before this first game, there was a very cool TV spot that advertised basketball is forever. The editors spliced footage of legends mixed in with today’s players. We were able to see Magic Johnson throwing a no look pass to Kobe; Derrick Rose playing alongside Michael Jordan; and several other matchups that are left in the world of what-if. Then it was game time; and all I can say is, “About damn time.” Even though the Knicks and Celtics are not my favorite teams, I got that tingling feeling in me when that ball went up for the tip. This game went both ways. The Knicks would get a big lead in the beginning and lead by 16 at one point. Then during the second half, Boston would go on a run and gain a lead of 11 during the third quarter. The game really picked up during the final minutes of the fourth as Carmelo Anthony took over the game. He was able to tie the game with a three and then give the Knicks the go-ahead bucket. Then Boston tried to respond with a three or a two, but failed at both. In the end the Knicks were able to win by two; 106-104

The Mavs Championship Banner

The next game was an NBA Finals rematch between the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks. Before this game, the Mavs were able to raise their Championship banner and the beloved Commissioner was there to help them out. When he was introduced, the Mavs crowd gave him a course of Boo’s. They eventually calmed down when Mark Cuban started talking and their banner was raised. When the game actually started, it was a massacre from the start. The Mavs lost several key players from their championship run and it clearly showed. LeBron James went off and was just took over the game. At one point, the Heat were up by 30 points. The Mavs just looked out of sync the whole game. Their overall shooting percentage was only 37%. The Mavs did make a small push late in the game, but at that point it didn’t matter. The Heat won 105-94.

The Lakers and Bulls were up next and it was a better game than I thought it would be. I expected the Lakers to be sluggish because of a new coach, players, and system; and they were. Rotations were slow at first and the turnovers were piling up. However, the Bulls weren’t able to begin pulling away until mid-way through the second quarter. Derrick Rose was able to get off some pretty acrobatic shots. At some point you just have to admit when a player is great. During the second half, the Lakers were able to lockdown on defense and to swing the momentum their way. They carried this into the fourth quarter and led by a high of 11. However, their defense eventually broke down and they weren’t playing as tight as they were before. Next thing you know, the lead was trimmed to one with twenty seconds left on the clock. Kobe is cornered at half court, and has to make a desperation pass. It gets intercepted by Rose and he gives the Bulls the go-ahead with a floater from just inside the free throw line. The Lakers are left with one final chance to win the game, but Kobe gets blocked at the buzzer to send them to a 0-1 record to start off the Mike Brown era. The Bulls pulled out an 88-87 win.

Kobe Bryant and the Chicago Bulls

The other games that were on were the Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers. The Magic were unsure of how Dwight Howard was going to play because he wants to be traded to another team. The Thunder on the other hand never looked better. Kevin Durant looked sharp with an even 30 points. Dwight, on the other hand, looked nothing like the all-star funny man he’s established himself as. He only scored 11 points on 4 of 12 shooting. The Thunder were easily able to win this 97-89.

To cap off an entire day of basketball, Chris Paul and the Clippers went up against Stephen Curry and the Warriors. This game was relatively close throughout the whole thing until the fourth quarter. At that point, Chris Paul and the Clippers took over and closed the game out to win it 105-86.

At the end of the day, I’m glad to say basketball is back and the future is looking good.

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Referee Interference

December 25, 2011
By J.D. Cook

Giants Crush the Jets on Christmas EveChristmas and the Giants have been a bad mix in recent years. The only exception to this was in 2007 when the Giants won in Buffalo pretty close to Christmas to clinch a playoff spot. Other than that many of the games close to Christmas were blow outs that went to the opposition. Like the game against the Saints a few seasons back. Yesterday, despite what I think may have literally been referee interference, the Giants pulled out a “W” against a good New York Jets team.

The reason I am perturbed at the referees is because nearly every call went towards the Jets when the Giants were within reach of closing out the game. Two very debatable challanges went their way along with a few on-field calls. It just felt like the refs had been told to keep the game competitive by making sure the Jets stayed in the game. I don’t want to be that guy, but there were numerous bad calls in that game.
 
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Nonetheless, the Giants still pulled out a win with a suffocating defense that was after Sanchez, “the golden child”, all second half. The real reason we won yesterday was because the offense took advantage of the Jet’s mistakes. The offense didn’t really play well, but they scored when put in good positions. That’s of course with the exception of the Cruz touchdown which was fantastic. That said, this game was really the first of the playoffs for the Giants. From here on in it’s win or go home. I hope the Giants pound the Cowboys into dust this coming week and end their playoff hopes like they did the Eagles this week.

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Giants Blog by J.D. Cook    Shop 2012 Super Bowl and 2011 Champion Gear!

The Night Before Christmas… in Gotham

A Christmas Treat from Big Blue Bullfrog

December 24, 2011
By Nick Larsen

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all throughout Gotham,
the streets were a buzz from a breakout in Arkham.
The prisoners ran free without a single care,
As the charge was led by the Joker with gleaming green hair.
Commissioner Gordon sent out his men
To stop the crime before the clock struck ten.
A fight broke out with bullets and knives,
Now the only hope rested on one man to save their lives.
Gordon darted to the rooftops in a mad dash,
Running up the steps like the speedster named Flash.
Lighting the beacon for hope, a bat covered the sky,
Quieting the streets as the citizens yelled for help in a single cry.
A hum filled the silent air of the night
As everyone knew who would soon appear.
Swooping down from the shadows the villains would shout
“Oh No! The Dark Knight! he’s here!”
Now Batgirl, now Robin, now Nightwing and Batwoman,
The whole batfamily had arrived, with extra help from Catwoman.
The prisoners fell one by one at the hands of these heroes,
The Joker grew increasingly frustrated as his numbers dwindled to zero.
While nearly invisible for the breakout’s suppression,
Batman walked foward ready to give the Joker his final lesson.
Punch, block, kick, and chop,
The laughter was hushed with the good guys coming out on top.
With the night won our heroes vanished without a sound,
leaving the fallen crooks in arrestable mounds.
Gordon returned to his car after a long day’s work,
To his surprise a gift was left in the backseat,
A face with a silent smirk.
The Joker layed defeated wrapped up with a bow,
With a note from from the stopper of his violent show.
“Merry Christmas Commissioner and have a safe night
From Batman aka The Dark Knight”

~

Sex and Swedish People

Attending the New York City Premiere of
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

December 21, 2011
By J.D. Cook

Ziegfeld Theater 12/14/11

Ziegfeld Theater 12/14/11

Wednesday, December 14th I had the good fortune of attending my first ever New York Movie Premiere. It was a star studded gala with the lead actors, Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara in attendance. After dodging some paparazzi on the red carpet I took my place with BigBlueBullfrog.com’s very own Nick Galasso and Gino Volpe (Volpe has yet to write anything but we’re all confident he will eventually). We sat in the theater patiently and waited for the lights to dim and curtains to open at the famed Ziegfeld Theater. Now on to the movie review itself.

I went into this film entirely blind. I knew nothing about the plot and I kept it that way avoiding Wikipedia or friends with big mouths. As a result my eyes were entirely virgin and my opinion is entirely of the film itself and not tied to it being an adaptation. I must stress this because for all I know having read the book first would have made this film more or less enjoyable.

*SPOILERS FROM HERE DOWN ALL WHO ENTER BE WARY*

Gino Volpe, J.D. Cook, and Mark Ruffalo

Gino Volpe, J.D. Cook, and Mark Ruffalo

The movie’s start was excellent. Fincher has done strange beginning sequences before but this one takes the cake. It reminded me of a James Bond intro, but beyond that I cannot really describe it. There were women, metal, USB cables, and flowers flying around. It evoked sex and technology while making you salivate for the rest of the film. What really made this strange opening sequence work was the score to it. Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” blasted in the background, but it was not the original. Instead it was a cover done by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Usually I detest covers, and remakes in all forms, but this one worked well with this scene and evoked my first hearing of the original “Immigrant Song” via the explosively loud speakers. Side note: really the only way “Immigrant Song” should be listened to is on huge speakers at full volume Marty McFly style. Now for the film itself, yes I just used a similar line two paragraphs up…deal with it.

Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig on set

Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig on set

I liked the film. It was dark and filled with disgusting family secrets. My title really sums it up well as there was lots of sex and Swedish people, not actual Swedes though just people playing Swedes. Both leads do good jobs in their roles, I wish Craig’s character was expanded on a bit at the beginning as it was a bit hard to figure out what was going on with him and the corporation. I’m not sure if this was intentional, but my gut tells me it wasn’t.

From here the plot follows the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo herself as she competes with scum bag government workers and Craig’s character who is hired by a wealthy Swedish family to find out what happened to one of their family members in the 60s. Eventually these two come together and solve the family’s case and then bring down the corporation that screwed over Daniel Craig’s character at the beginning of the film.

The plot isn’t very original actually. It’s been done before and feels kind of eh. There are two particularly brutal rape scenes that do feel uncomfortable and unique though. Not that it is really a good thing to have unique rape scenes in a film though. They both caught me off guard a bit and had me looking around the theater as if saying “is this really happening on screen?!” Beyond that I felt like I had seen this film before. The villain was the person made to be the most likeable as in every other who-done- it film. The ending was also an issue as the film seemed to go beyond where it should have naturally ended. I am told this is just like the book, but in film once we know who the bad guy is and he has been dealt with the audience tends to check out so to say. This is made especially true by the running time of the film which is fairly lengthy. Other than that the acting was stellar, the cinematography rocked, and the film was fun.

I’d say it’s a solid 3 out of 5.

Now onto the magic of the post-film premiere

Kate Mara

Kate Mara

I forced my friends to wait a bit before exiting as I assumed any celebrities would wait for the normal people to exit if they hadn’t already left the theater. My keen celebrity instincts proved true as we ran into Brian Cox in the lobby. Earlier in the night I had bemoaned the fact that I was missing my new favorite show American Horror Story, but my mind was quickly slapped for thinking this as I ran into one of the show’s recurring actresses Kate Mara, the sister of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo herself (Rooney Mara). Since 2003’s Lost in Translation I have had a celebrity crush on Scarlet Johansson but no more. Seeing Kate Mara in the flesh wearing a beautiful pink Christian Dior dress instantly changed my crush to her. Nick Galasso also bummed into director David Fincher earlier in the evening and we were standing pretty close to the extremely tall Joely Richardson who had a role in the film and is famous for her role on Nip/Tuck.

All in all it was a rad night and I won’t soon forget it or the fact that Gino Volpe invited me! THANKSSSSS BROSEPHHHHHH!!!!!

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War Is Over !

December 15, 2011
By Sinclair Soul

Ceremony for Leaving IraqYesterday at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, President Obama told troops it was “harder to end a war than to begin one” as he marked the end of the war in Iraq. “We are leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people,” said the President, apparently paying homage to his predecessor George W. Bush without actually uttering his name. It was the Bush administration whom set this timeline during the “surge” plan five years ago, and to Obama’s credit, he was able to stick to that plan.

Many have been critical of this end to operations in Iraq, with virtually no combat forces left to quill any further insurrection. But I’m going to take an optimistic view. Call me naive, but I don’t ever wish to see another one of our troops in harm’s way in Mesopotamia. We have been in differing degrees of conflict there for twenty-one years, directly on the ground for nearly nine of those. The Iraq War was front page news virtually everyday during the first four years when there was a major insurgency and the bulk of the overall American casualties. But since the success of the 2007 surge led by General David Petraeus, the news coverage of the war has dwindled to near nothing. Even today with the actual end being met, it seems to be buried in the news coverage. Personally, I’d like to to be shouting with jubulation like the end of this infamous Doors song – War is over! All over baby! All over!

Whether or not this is a truly a historic day or just another event in the longer string of conflicts in the Middle East remains to be seen, but I’m going to take an optimistic view. History will judge the merits of the war itself and whether it was worth it. It is really hard to coldly judge the value of any human life or even life altering injury. But if you stack the Iraq War against America’s last major conflict – the Vietnam War, you’ll find the ultimate casualties to be less than one tenth while the end result appears to be much more favorable. Again, history will ultimately judge but I am optimistic. Let’s hope our next major conflict takes less than one tenth of the lives of this one.

History will also judge some of the major players in this war, especially on the political side. I’m a conservative but I think we may have a better Defense Secretary at the end of the war in Leon Panetta then we did at the beginning with Donald Rumsfeld. And the disgusting comments of “little” Dick Durbin or the late blowhard John Murtha among others, who were so quick to paint our troops with a wide brush due to the transgressions (either real or imagined) of an extreme minority, these will also be deliberated by future historians.

So today I am just happy to say; “War Is Over!”

~

The Soul of the Nation Article LogoSinclair Soul is a championship-level background singer and now political columnist for BigBlueBullfrog.com. His column, “The Soul of the Nation” thoroughly examines the state of American politics and culture from a Soul perspective.

Freedom To Lose

December 14, 2011
By Mitchell T. Zink

Name the declared Republican candidates for the 2012 presidency. At best, most people would count around 7 or so, a respectable number in and of itself. You probably thought Romney, Cain (or what’s left of him), Gingrich, Bachmman, Perry, Paul and maybe even Huntsman and Santorum. Nonetheless, you would still be missing more than half of the declared candidates even with those named above. Is this the fault of the average American, supposedly ignorant to the world around them, or is there some greater conspiracy being conducted against both you the voter and those other potential candidates?

You may have watched a debate or two; perhaps saw snippets on youtube of Perry ruining his campaign or other comedic failures between lackluster individuals. You may have sat there as I have, mouth agape, with one lucid thought floating around in your mind: “Is this it?” Is this really the best that the Grand Old Party can put together to run against Barack Obama?

This seems more like a kindergarten class than a presidential election and I’m expecting an elephant with juice and cookies to soon appear. There must be someone else, someone who can encompass my views and has a track record of success that I so long for in a viable president yet who has been snubbed by those in charge of these debates.

It was around the middle of summer where I decided to analyze the political viewpoints of each candidate, study their past and attempt to make a choice for my endorsement. After a long and arduous process (I Googled a presidential candidate quiz), I realized that former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson was the right guy for me. He had all the qualities I wanted in a leader, a successful businessman like Cain, a proactive politician like Perry, held an executive position when in office (they say governors make better presidents than congressman because of this experience), has libertarian views like Paul (but not as old) and a slew of other stances that just made him perfect for me. Yet now, looking back since then, out of 13 debates, Gary Johnson has only been invited to 2 of these, the latter of which on September 22nd he performed incredibly well. Why is this candidate, and so many others, being ignored by the American people?

It’s not entirely our fault. We love a good fight and we love a good show packed with action, drama, intrigue, laughs, etc. It’s just in our nature to enjoy exceptional and risqué events as they take away the mundane boredom that is our typical life. To say the least, I’m sure if you polled a group of Americans and asked them if their lives were boring most would say yes. The question that blossoms from this is how can someone capitalize on this boredom? The mass media produces sitcoms, reality television, talk radio, etc. in an attempt to capitalize on this boredom and turn a massive profit. It’s a simple ethos of “Greed is Good.” Yet after a decade of shows like Survivor, the media have realized a way to apply the same principles of voting people off islands into voting candidates off elections.

For instance, take the recent case of Herman Cain, whom only weeks before was considered the front runner for the Republican ticket. Here is a businessman with no real political experience to speak of, tossing his hat into a race and suddenly rising up from an unprecedented wave of support only to be thrown on the shore by revelations of numerous acts of infidelity. For two weeks now this has been the main focus of the election, the unprecedented moral corruption of this once solid individual. Why?

Seriously, why? Haven’t we done this dance before? First and foremost, why is Cain prolonging his fall from grace? Does he really think that he has a chance and can make a comeback? He’s done. Further still, why is the media ballooning this into front page news? What of the stances of the other candidates on things like war and death and the economy? Are those too bland and boring and simply won’t sell airtime and print? I’d like to know the positions of the other thirteen candidates as the women Cain sleeps with really won’t matter when I’m trying to get a job in a few months.

Now I’m not going to blast the media and say that all the networks have a conspiracy against the other candidates. Instead, I’m going to leave it up to the audience to decide who is at fault here. There are other candidates, other views points that are worth at least the acknowledgement of their existence by both the media and by proxy the American voter. We deserve better. The media is supposed to be fair and balanced while presenting all the news that’s fit to print, not just some of the news, not just some of the candidates. I love politics, but I love democracy more than this game. I want what’s best for this nation and I want the freedom to choose who will lead us back to greatness. What we have now is the freedom to lose.

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Victory is Sweet

December 12, 2011
By J.D. Cook

Giants block last second FG attempt by Cowboys on Sunday night, December 11thMy first beef with last night’s win was this; there were far too many flags that impacted the game for both teams. I think penalties, unless extremely violent in nature, should never give a team fresh downs or field position that creates go ahead touchdowns. When the refs have the power to influence the game I worry how much say the players have. That being said, I am happy to breathe a huge sigh of relief as the Giants finally broke their four game skid.

The team’s last win seems like it was ages ago, coming on the first week of November. This win sets up a likely showdown for all the marbles when the teams meet again at the Met on New Year’s day. Still every game is important and the Giants have the Redskins at home before they “travel” (which in this case means switching sidelines) to face off with the cross-town rival Jets, in what should be a charged game between two teams fighting for the playoffs. Dallas must get through the Buccaneers and the Eagles before that final showdown, which will happen unless one of these teams totally collapses. Hopefully the Giants can ride last night’s victory straight into the playoffs, but I am skeptical for now as their defense hasn’t been able to hold offenses back of late.
 
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Now let’s take a moment to bask in this victory. Pierre-Paul played a monster of a game, forcing fumbles, getting safeties, and blocking field goals. Manning had a 400-yard game, and Jacobs reminded me of his 2007 self as he leveled Dallas defenders left and right. He even hurtled one defender proving that he is more than just a bruiser. Let’s not forget Hakeem Nicks as well. Steve Smith who?

The Cowboys are the most marketed team in the NFL and seeing them loose is always fun. Over my time as an NFL fan I have learned that besides watching Fox’s Pre-Game show it’s a bit pointless to indulge in the sports media. They are consumerist whores who will sell the Cowboys (or the Lakers or the yankees, etc.) as the team of the day no matter if they are good or not because they have the largest fan base and thus give them the best market. It’s a sad state of journalistic affairs.

Ok, off my high horse now. The win is made sweeter by the shocked look on Jerry Jones’ face. It’s as if he is thinking, “We can’t loose! It’s not possible!”

Ah words cannot express my joy at beating “America’s Team” last night. That is all.

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Giants Blog by J.D. Cook    Shop 2012 Super Bowl and 2011 Champion Gear!